Now that I'm not busy with the PFB challenges, I busied myself with a cooking class at Natural Gourmet, where I previously took Chinese Homestyle Cooking and Vegan Hors D'Oeuvres classes. This time, the class was for a "Southeast Asian Vegan Banquet" and was taught by Myra Kornfeld, author of The Voluptuous Vegan. As always, it was a great time with fun people, and best of all, we got to eat everything we made and drink some wine at the end.
The first course we made was a Watercress & Green Mango Salad with Peanut Dressing, served with Hot & Sweet Sesame Nori Fins. Actually, the green mangos were a little overripe (in other words, not quite green anymore) so we didn't use them. At any rate, it's a watercress salad over sliced cucumbers with grapefruit supremes, which might sound not all that exciting but the peanut dressing made everything delicious and went surprisingly well with the grapefruit, which I never would have thought to pair with it. I'm definitely going to remake the sesame nori fins for a future post because they were so surprisingly and incredibly addictive. You basically paint sheets of nori with a mixture of brown rice syrup, sesame oil, and a little cayenne, then sprinkle them with sesame seeds and salt, then bake them. They are sweet, salty, crunchy, and kind of fishy tasting... and so very good. I think these might be the next big thing, so look out kale chips! Your reign is over!
The main course that we made had several different components, that all came together beautifully. And deliciously. First we made Red Bhutan Rice with Roasted Baby Vegetables with Lemongrass & Cilantro. Then we had two different sauces, both coconut milk-based, a Yellow Pepper-Coconut Milk Sauce and a Spinach-Thai Basil Sauce. The two colors looked beautiful together on the plate, but I think I preferred the green sauce with all the wonderful Thai basil flavor - one of my favorite ingredients. We also made baked tofu that was marinated in a delectable combination of garlic, galangal, lemongrass, coconut oil, kaffir lime leaves, Thai chilies, and quite a few other things. Definitely one of the best marinades I've ever tasted, and it will also be remade and posted soon. But one of the most fun parts of the class was making the crispy rice sticks that we sprinkled on top of the dishes. Just drop some dried rice sticks in hot oil and see what happens:
IT'S FREAKING MAGICAL!
And for dessert we made a Mango-Lemongrass Ice Cream with Lemon Tuiles. I would have never thought to put lemongrass into an ice cream, but it was really refreshing and zesty in this one, perfect paired with the mango. Also, I always thought that tuiles were the kind of fancy schmancy things you would find in Parisian bakeries and places with certified pastry chefs, so I was surprised and delighted to learn how easy they are to make. Now I want to make them all the time! I think I'm going to have to invest in some Silpat for my new tuile-making mania.
This tuile has a hole in it. Mine will be better.
And just for fun, because I forgot that I had these on my phone until I uploaded my cooking class photos, here are some pics from our most recent camping trip with friends, somewhere along the Delaware river. I forgot to take pics of the Field Roast Apple Sage sausages that we cooked over the fire, and it was too dark to take pictures of the vegan s'mores (but you can see s'mores pics from another trip here) but you can still see that we managed to eat very well. I'm a master of roasting veggies over a fire!
Gorgeous tomatoes from my friend Susanne's garden.
Eaten with just some sea salt & a drizzle of truffled balsamic glaze.
Potatoes & brussels sprouts drizzled with olive oil & dried herbs turn into this:
Crispy, caramelized goodness.
Is there anything better than grilled corn on the cob?
Farmer's market squash & zucchini with a little jalapeno for kick,
drizzled with olive oil & dried herbs
drizzled with olive oil & dried herbs
Turned into more grilled goodness!
I call this dish "Tofu Flambé"
And our first jack-o-lantern of the year!